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Almonte shines for Isotopes in Triple-A debut

After an inauspicious beginning, Yency Almonte settled in nicely for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

One of the Colorado Rockies’ top pitching prospects, Almonte made his triple-A debut in a 9-5 victory over the Omaha Storm Chasers Thursday night at Isotopes Park.

“He pitched with intention tonight, and you and can see he’s a very confident guy that believes in his stuff,” said Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill. “It was good that he got off to a good start.”

First-pitch swinging, Omaha’s first two batters – Billy Burns and Dean Anna – reached on singles. Burns would eventually score following an Isotopes error putting Almonte in an early hole.

“(I was thinking), ‘oh man it’s one of those days,'” Almonte said about the rocky start. “I have to figure out something real quick.”

Almonte was promoted from the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate in Hartford, Conn. earlier this week following a strong start against Portland in which he pitched seven shutout innings.

A 2017 Eastern League all-star — that despite two stints on the disabled list in May — Almonte showed evidence of that form striking out six in seven innings of work allowing two earned runs and seven hits.

He closed out the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts, and ended the seventh inducing Omaha’s Nathan Esposito into an inning-inning double play.

“I would give myself a ‘B’ today,” Almonte said in grading his performance, while noting that he would need to throw shutout baseball to earn an ‘A.’ “It felt good getting that first win out of the way.”

The Isotopes were on the short end of a 3-1 score heading to the bottom of the fifth.

Frank Schwindel had an RBI double in the fourth for Omaha, and Burns’ sacrifice fly in the fifth opened a two-run advantage.

A two-out ‘Topes rally in the bottom half of the fifth turned things around.

Derrik Gibson drew a two-out walk, and promptly stole second base. David Dahl, who homered in the third, cut the lead in half with a single, and Ryan McMahon pushed the ‘Topes in front with a two-run homer to left-center.

Albuquerque, which leads all of baseball in triples, added three more to its total as part of a five-run sixth inning.

Mike Tauchman, Gibson, and Dahl had RBI three-baggers, and Rafael Ynoa added an RBI double.

Up until the fifth inning, the ‘Topes’ hard-hit balls were finding Omaha gloves.

“When we’re hitting balls (hard) that are caught, it’s easy to relax at the plate because pretty soon, those balls are going to fall,” Hill said.

McMahon and Dahl each fell a double short of the cycle finishing with three RBIs apiece.

THRICE IS NICE: While Isotopes officials could not confirm a team record, the sixth inning’s barrage of triples may well be a new Isotopes single-inning record.

Tauchman, Gibson and Dahl all had RBI triples during the five-run uprising that opened a six-run lead. What can be confirmed is the ‘Topes’ propensity for the three-bagger this season. According to team officials, the Isotopes’ 60 triples this season — not counting the four Thursday — led all levels of baseball.

The Isotopes’ triples output in the sixth; however, was far short of the Pacific Coast League record of five set by Tucson in 1991.

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